March 19, 2010


The Gritty New Elmore Leonard Crime Drama: The creator and star of FX's new show, Justified, along with author Leonard, discuss its genre roots, all while asking "WWED" ("What Would Elmore Do?"). (Jace Lacob, 3/15/10, Daily Beast)

A soft-spoken but deadly lawman. A tipped Stetson. A quick-fire gun battle in a Kentucky mining town. Despite the familiar Western tropes, the action is unfolding in the present day on FX's new drama series Justified, which launches tonight, and is based on a character created by bestselling novelist Elmore Leonard.

Timothy Olyphant (Damages) plays Raylan Givens, a disgraced U.S. Marshal who is forced to return to his hometown after he shoots a fugitive in Miamiā€”a "justified" act that is in keeping with his strict moral code. He's a man of his word, has a penchant for cowboy hats and justice, and doesn't make idle threats. In other words, he's the perfect Elmore Leonard character. Justified is earning FX rave reviews, with Time's James Poniewozik calling it "quite a weapon," the San Francisco Chronicle's Tim Goodman ranking Olyphant's performance as "incredibly riveting," and TV Guide's Matt Roush calling it the "best new series, network or cable, of the midseason."

Justified's writer/executive producer Graham Yost (Band of Brothers) has been a fan of Leonard's for more than 25 years, and he relished the chance to take Raylan Givens back to where he came from, a mining town in Harlan County, Kentucky, that's overflowing with unsavory folk and is the perfect place for a U.S. Marshal to ply his trade. But in turning Leonard's short story "Fire in the Hole" into a television series, Yost found that there were inherent obstacles.

"I always felt with Out of Sight and Get Shorty that one of the great things that Scott Frank did in writing those screenplays was let Elmore come through and use some of his dialogue wherever possible," Yost said. "There's probably about 60/40 Elmore to me in the pilot. But the next part of that is the challenge of doing that on a weekly basis and suddenly you don't have a story of Elmore's to adapt. You've got to come up with your own."

...but moving past an adaptation of the original Leonard short story is the test.

N.B.: I'd not heard about the show, but saw this poster on a train on Sunday. No straight male having seen same could not watch.

The one bad moment in the show is when the marshall, who can't be older than his early 40's, refers to making an arrest at a Peter Tosh concert.

Posted by Orrin Judd at March 19, 2010 5:17 AM
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